A year of podcasting- what have I learned

Last year I created a podcast for my physics students. It started off as a simple recap of the past week and an overview of the week to come. However, it evolved into much more than just a review for the students. It became a learning experience for me.

For starters, I learned that students, like with any other resource, needed to be shown how to use the new medium. I guess all the hype over the so-called “digital native” made me think that my students would just instantly pick up on the idea of a podcast. Not true at all. A large majority of my students didn’t even know what a podcast was before I started using them for class. Don’t let the “your kids already know how to do this” blather fool you. They need to be taught.

The students taught me several things too. Especially helpful was the feedback they gave me on a survey I gave at the end of the last school year.

Below is a slideshow of the results:

Slideshow above might be blocked (download original slides)

Based on the student feedback, here is what I plan to do differently regarding this year’s podcast:

  • encourage students to use it: Just like the textbook, notes or homework, a podcast is a resource that needs promoting.
  • have an out-of-class experience: We always have extra problems and labs to do in physics. The podcast allows students to see examples that we just don’t have time for in class.
  • always keep the quiz in mind: When making a podcast, always keep your next assessment in mind because it is what many of your students are thinking about as they watch.
  • more videos: It take more of your time but the videos were far more valuable to my students that just the audio.
  • write a script: You don’t need to write a script that you plan to follow verbatim but an rough outline will cut down on the “babble” in your podcast.
  • keep it short: My students complained incessantly when the podcast went over seven minutes. Many of them said they wouldn’t watch it if it was too long.
  • share clips in class: This goes back to encouraging students to use the podcast. If you have something great in the podcast, there is no reason not to show a little clip in class too.
  • get them subscribing: Show students how to subscribe to the podcast with tools like iTunes, Google Reader, or MyYahoo. If your podcast shows up on their desktops automatically, they will be more compelled to use it.

Watch (or subscribe) to this year’s season of BaslerCast.